SAILS 1990 45 Florida Bay Coaster
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Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Atlantic City to Barnegat Light
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 24
Weather forecast was not the greatest for today but was suppose to improve so we departed from Atlantic city at 0610 hours and continued north on our outside route in the Atlantic… The inlet was a little rough and we bounced around a bit but soon we were past it and sea conditions were much better… they were acceptable knowing that the forecast was for improvement.

Well we should of expected it… things got progressively worse rather than improve and soon conditions were beyond what we wanted to ride in for eight plus hours to get to New York… so we decided to go in the next inlet which was Barnegat Light… We had used this inlet on our trip north last year and we knew there was a nice place to anchor there but we still had about an hour to go and it was really nasty seas… large NE ocean swells and the wind was now blowing steady out of the north at 25 knots with gusts to 30 knots.

We arrived at the inlet at about 1130 and turned to enter it… I could see the inlet channel ahead and the ocean swells were breaking in the inlet channel… it did not look good… we also were experiencing a strong current coming out of the inlet and turning to the south at it exited… we could barely make 5 knots as we approached… then things real nasty as the water depth dropped from near 40 feet to 15 feet… waves were breaking on our starboard stern and causing us to surf forward and heal over to port… it was NASTY… VERY VERY NASTY… we made it through and learned a lot about the capabilities of SAILS… she could handle far more than we ever want to experience again.

Once inside we proceeded to the south past the Coast Guard Station and anchored in a small cove adjacent to Barnegat Light Yacht Basin which appears to be totally commercial boats… secure at anchor at 1150 hours at approximately 39°43.290’, W074°.08.599’.

Today we traveled for 5 hours and 40 minutes and covered 34 nautical miles averaging 5.9 knots.
Posted at 1:28 PM
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Smithfield,VA to Atlantic City,NJ
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 22-23
Our couple days of relaxation in Smithfield turned into almost a week... spent several days with Wayne and Judy McPhail. We departed from Smithfield at 0700 on May 9, 2011. We had an outgoing tide so we had a good boost of speed from the current and we zipped out of Pagan River and James River hitting 9 knots a few times... love when this happens... :) But it is usually short lived and we hit current on our nose as we passed the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel exiting Chesapeake Bay in to the Atlantic Ocean... our speed slowed to 5.5 - 6 knots... but as we got farther away from the mouth of the Chesapeake and moving north in the Atlantic our speed slowly increased till we reached our typical 7 knot cruising speed.

We had decided earlier to take the Atlantic route rather than go up the Chesapeake Bay... this route saves a lot of miles and time compared to up the Chesapeake Bay, across the C&D Canal and down the Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ... Depending on sea conditions we planned to go to either Chincoteague Inlet or Ocean City... we would make Chincoteague Inlet by 1730-1800 and Ocean City would be around 2300-2330.

After getting our speed back up and having only a 2-4 ocean swell we decided to go for Ocean City. MD... it would be a long day but you do not get calm seas in the Atlantic that often so we decided to go for it. After getting the course set in the autopilot I left the helm in Susan's control and went to bed to get some sleep so I would be fresh and alert to man the helm that evening after dark. I managed to get in a 4 hour "nap" and awoke to even calmer seas and a slight boost of current taking us to almost 8 knots... I was wide awake and full of energy and decided we need to take advantage of these conditions while we had them... so we moved the destination from Ocean City, MD to Atlantic City, NJ... if for some reason it got bad we could always duck into Cape May, NJ. This time Susan went to bed to get some sleep to relieve me from the helm during the night and we were now bound for Atlantic City.

The night was pretty uneventful... saw a couple of ships on the radar way ahead of us but never really got that close to them... 6 miles at the closest point. It was a half full moon most of the night and it illuminated the water ahead of us making visibility very good... of course we had radar running as well. I could see the lights from Ocean City illuminating the horizon from 25-30 miles south of it... they only got brighter and brighter as we approached... but soon they were behind us and the horizon was filled with darkens... could see nothing but an occasion blip of light from nav aids as we crossed the mouth of Delaware Bay.

At about 0300 the ocean swells just disappeared totally and the wind that was blowing around 10 knots stopped... it was totally flat calm seas... I was hoping this is the way it would stay as we still had about 7 hours to go... we got maybe 2 hours of this and the wind started to pick up out of the NNW and at 0500 we had steady 20 knot winds with gusts to 25 knots... seas were still fairly calm even with this wind... it took about an hour and a half and then we had a good 4-6 sea on our port bow and the ocean swells were back as well but this time they were pretty good size... 6 foot rollers with a much closer period between each wave peak and they were coming at us from the NE.... so this made for a very confused sea state and not the most comfortable ride... but it was not unbearable... just really rotten compared to what we had experienced up to this point. At 0530 the new seas conditions and the sky lighting up a bright orange from the pending sunrise awoke Susan and she joined me in the pilothouse.

We were already past Cape May at this point so it was either endure the conditions or back track to Cape May... we still had our speed up so I opted to continue on to Atlantic City... shortly after than we started to loose our speed and dropped from 7-7.5 knots to 6 knots... our arrival time to Atlantic City was now showing to be 1100-1130...5 to 5.5 hours to go in this washing machine sea conditions... YUCK!
But we endured it... I change my course from direct from to Atlantic City and moved in closer to shore to get more into the lee of the land... this helped with the 4-6 NW seas but we still had the large ocean swells... but they by themselves made for a much more comfortable ride and as we approached we did get a little more speed... there was a flood current at the inlet to Atlantic City.

We arrived to Atlantic City and proceeded to where we normally go... a dine and dock restaurant adjacent to the marine aquarium... as I made the turn to the dock I could see two sailboats docked there... there is room for three boats if they stay close together but it looked like there was no room left... maybe a small spot in front of the one sailboat... there was maybe 30 feet of dock... enough to squeeze in and get secured to the docks at 1100 hours... approximate location N39º22.575', W074º25.279'. The restaurant was full of activity but not people eating... it was workers busy getting the restaurant ready to open for the season... the restaurant was closed! :(

Stats... after leaving Smithfield we traveled for 28 hours covering 195 nautical miles averaging 6.96 knots.
Posted at 8:30 PM
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Great Bridge, VA to Smithfield, VA
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 21
Not having far to go today we departed from Great Bridge at 1000 hours... we had to go through the Great Bridge Bridge and then immediately through the Great Bridge Lock.

We entered the lock at 1009 with two other boats... a sport fish and another trawler... wind was off our port beam so we opted to go to the right side of the lock as the wind would push us into the wall of the lock making it easy to secure ourselves to the wall. There was a south bound trawler approaching the lock from the north as we were being raised up slightly in the lock... as the north gates started opening the southbound trawler headed right for the lock gates and was ready to enter... the lock tender hailed them and said that they would have to back off and allow the boats in the lock to exit before they could enter the lock... apparently he did not understand and held his boat in position just off the lock gates... the lock tender stopped the gates from opening and went outside to yell at this boat to back off... finally they got the idea and moved away... :)

After the delay due ot the southbound trawler we finally exited the lock at 1021 and the next obstruction was a bridge... Steel Bridge... only opens on the hour so we had plenty of time to make it and proceeded just over idle speed towards it... arriving in time for it's 1100 opening.

Next to come was the Gilmerton Bridge that according to all of our resources opened on demand... but monitoring the VHF we heard them announcing opening only on the hour and half hour... still no problem as we would be there by it's 1130 opening. Upon arriving at the bridge I hailed on the VHF and was informed that they would not be opening at 1130 due to the Coast Guard shutting down the waterway north of the bridge and that they would open as soon as the Coast Guard gave them the OK... appeared that they were moving a barge and crane off the docks just north of the bridge and would be blocking the waterway... thus the shut down... we did not have to wait long and at about 1125 the bridge hailed us on the VHF and said she received teh OK from the Coast Guard and would be opening momentarily... at this point there were four boats waiting to for the bridge. At 1200 we cleared the Gilmerton Bridge and continued north on the ICW.

Our planned stop was Smithfield, VA on the Pagan River... not having far to go and having the current with us I did not push hard... maintained lower RPM saving fuel and still doing 7 knots... NICE!

As we passed through Norfolk we could hear on the VHF several Navy war ships broadcasting their intentions of leaving the docks... and sure enough just as we passed the Navy yard there were tugs assisting one of the war ships off the dock... we took some great photos of it... We continued on and could see a second war ship ahead of us also leaving the docks... when we were hailed on the VHF by the war ship we had just past... it was now behind us and wanting to know our intentions and letting us know that they would be northbound at 6 knots... I told them we would be leaving the ship channel to port at the next red marker and heading northwest towards Newport News... they acknowledged and signed off... COOL... never been hailed by a Navy war ship before... :)

We soon exited the ship channel and were headed up the James River towards the Pagan River and Smithfield, VA. As we approached Newport News we had a large ship directly on our stern... we were out of the ship channel but the size of these ships is overwhelming when they are close to you... soon three tugs passed us and came along side the ship to aid it up the channel and into docks at Newport News.

It was not long before we heading up the Pagan River towards Smithfield... it was an hour before low tide and the depths of the channel off the James into Pagan are about 7 feet... once in to the Pagan River most of the channel is 12 feet plus except for one stretch that is very shallow... we had to go at idle speed across it.. 6 feet... 5.9... 5.8... 5.7... 5.6... 5.5... depth sounder stops reading the depth and flashed LAST over and over again... we did not hit the bottom but it's always a little scary when this happens... across the 1/2 mile stretch and soon the depth sounder started reading again and soon it was 12 feet deep again... :)

We approached location we would be docking at... the next door neighbor of Wayne and Judy McPhail... normally when in this area we anchor behind Wayne and Judy's home... however, due to a gracious offer from their neighbor to use his dock... always nice to be at a dock.

As we approached we could see Judy waving to us from the dock... she had left work a little early to meet us and help us with our lines... awesome!
At 1630 we were docked and secure for the night at approximate position N36º59.557', W076º37.455'.

We will be staying here for a couple of days to visit with Wayne and Judy... take care of some business and just relax.

Today we traveled for 6 hours and 30 minutes covering 35 nautical miles averaging 5.4 knots.
Posted at 12:25 PM
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